I always have the greatest time at Failure Celebration parties.
The champagne flows. The smiles are broader than an Englishman's sense of humor after eight pints of synthetic lager. Inhibitions are shed and ululations of joy wake children in the next county.
At some point in the evening, the person at center of it all -- the entrepreneur who has failed -- comes over, slaps me on the back and says: "I did it! I did it again! I failed! How cool is that?!"
Is failure cool? It seems to have become very cool lately.
Article after learned, motivational article tells people that you cannot succeed unless you fail.
It's as if you can't succeed without failing. Or, if you do, your success is a stained, asterisk-worthy in the record books. It's as if you've somehow cheated the fates and, even worse, the New Rules of Entrepreneurship.
Pain must come before joy. The zit must come before the pure complexion. Suffering is a must, as is going bust, if you want to become a true success.
Who invented this theory? I don't want to blame the Catholic Church, but this emphasis on suffering does seem like it came from "Pain Now, Heaven Later: The Vatican Book Of Business Success."
Of course, one motivation in glorifying failure is to help those for whom it is a debilitating experience.
It's your shrink putting a positive spin on your spouse leaving you for someone else. It's your doctor telling your four-year-old that his broken leg will heal and be twice as strong.
The truth is that failure is generally an awful experience. It's the crushing of hope, the public expression of a supposed personal inadequacy.
It seems that way at the time, at least.
You know, by the mere nature of your existence, that things in life go wrong more often than they go right (unless you're Harry from One Direction that is. Nothing ever goes wrong for him).
But it's not as if all those things going wrong are somehow necessary for things to go right. It's the mere nature of chance and the complications and permutations of life that there are fewer expressions of success than there are people desperate to be successful.
Naturally, I mean "successful." Because we all have our interpretations of what that word really means. Even though the media would like us to believe there are only two ingredients: "rich" and "famous."
In any case, "failure" is a word that -- just like its nephew "mistake" -- is a shifting entity.
What today seems like a failure might, in a couple of years, feel like it was a neutral, or even a positive, experience.
We fool ourselves all the time into believing that a relationship "failed" or we perpetrated a terrible "mistake," only to realize years later that we were just slightly self-delusional.
Wouldn't it therefore be an idea to worship the concept of failure just a little less?
Instead, why not learn something from every experience, whether it feels good or bad at the time -- or even so bad, it's good -- and do the most important thing of all: just keep getting up in the morning and doing something.
What is most depressing about the current deification of failure is that it hasn't been embraced by the Chicago Cubs.
Why, after Steve Bartman made what was actually a marginal assist at most toward the team's headlong rush to disaster in 2003, didn't the Cubs host the biggest, loudest, most excitable party in history, entitled: The Great We Didn't Win The World Series Again Party?